The Enemy That Became A Friend

by Alan Spedding

Napoleon Hill, in his renowned book, “Think and Grow Rich” claimed the following:

“Every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.”

When the Covid pandemic invaded our world, no-one could claim that it was a blessing. However, there were some indirect blessings associated.

One of those associations was the increased need for the use of modern technology. Fortunately, in my home ward of South Shields in the Sunderland England Stake, we were extremely fortunate to have a Bishop who was already “into” technology.

Bishop Adlington needed no persuasion to embrace this new opportunity, and quickly set up Zoom meetings and Watch Parties.

Initially, this new way of doing things was met with resistance by some ward members, particularly those more senior members. And so, the Bishop with a few of his allies, set about educating these discomforted members by setting up training for anyone who might be apprehensive of using computers, tablets or smart phones.

Pretty soon, ward meetings were being held regularly, and tentatively, cameras once shut off, were turned on and people began to feel more comfortable when appearing on screen.

Sunday School classes for the youth and adults are held weekly now and weekly fun nights are run for those who may feel the need of some extra companionship.

These activities may well continue long after the Covid restrictions have been lifted, and more senior members have begun to embrace this new technology, previously thought to belong to the younger generation.

Single Sisters particularly, have realized the blessings related to this new way of communicating. While there is no substitute for face-to-face contact, this is certainly the next best thing, and in some cases has proven to be more convenient, requiring no costly travel and night visits to Church meetings.

South Shields
South Shields Ward Technology “Converts” Top Left to Right – Anne Adair, Elsie Burgham, Maureen Johnson, Audrey Spedding. Bottom Left to Right – Elsie Power, Val Atkinson, Lorraine Dodsworth, Janet Jenkinson

Quotes from members:

Anne Adair:

'I never had any problems coming to terms with Zoom, in fact I embraced the opportunity to learn. One of the great things for me is that through meeting in small groups, my confidence to join in the discussions has increased dramatically and I now look forward to the classes, where I once felt a little intimidated. I attend our Church meetings, two lessons a week with the missionaries, and love our Tuesday fun nights together. Zoom is a blessing indeed'

Elsie Burgham:

'A big thank you to Bishop Adlington and all those who have assisted in linking us together through Zoom and other methods of communication. Initially, I had no concept as to the ability of this technology. It has far surpassed my expectations and been a wonderful blessing in my life. Our Tuesday evening fun nights have been hilarious and eased the stress we are all feeling at this difficult time. I am now able to connect with other Sisters in the Ward for Family Home Evenings and also with my friends and fellow Temple workers.'

Maureen Johnson:

'With the assistance of my Bishop, I have been able to access a variety of meetings and activities using Zoom. It has been a lifeline to me and given me the opportunity to have contact with friends and attend Church services, weddings, baptisms, funerals and virtual historical tours. We have a weekly fun night, and it has become one of the highlights of my week. This wonderful technology has blessed my life and I am so glad I made the little effort it takes to learn how to use it. Brilliant!'

Audrey Spedding:

'Bishop Adlington is the King of Zoom. Due to personal illness, this technology has been such a blessing to me. To be able to connect with other members of the Ward again has lifted my spirits, and to share our thoughts together in Sunday School and other meetings has been special. I was one who resisted this “scary” technology but have found it to be a wonderful ally.'

Elsie Power:

'I knew nothing about Zoom or technology and was afraid I might, “press the wrong button” but our Bishop was there at the end of the phone, whenever he was needed, to walk me through the process. He is always available, and that is reassuring. I am now confident in using Zoom and enjoy meeting with the Ward and now know how to contact my family members all over the world. It is a wonderful blessing and a friend who I once thought was my enemy.'

Lorraine Dodsworth:

'I am not technically minded at all, and so this new way of communicating was rather daunting at first. However, Bishop Adlington was incredibly patient in teaching me, and always happy to help. It can be lonely at times as a single sister, but through this technology it feels like I am able to invite people into my home and they are inviting me into theirs. I now enjoy FHE, a weekly fun night, all Church meetings, Zoom meeting with the missionaries who teach a group of us every week from the Come Follow Me manual. I am on Zoom every day except Wednesdays and Saturdays. Thanks to all the technologically capable members who have reached out to those of us who struggle. I feel so much more competent now, and close in the care of our Ward family.'

Janet Jenkinson:

'I was not comfortable at first, but with a little help from two members in the ward, I quickly learned how to use Zoom. Now I really enjoy teaching with Zoom and the interaction with others in the ward. My Family History helper and I have used it to great effect and now I wonder what I would have done without it. I think I would be lost. I am grateful to be a member of a ward that is so tech savvy, with a wonderful, supportive Bishop.'

 Val Atkinson:

'I have a testimony of revelation – It wasn’t by chance that our bishop and his counsellors are technology experts, and I’m profoundly grateful that they accepted the call in time to be a solution to a future problem - the Covid situation of ‘days never to be forgotten’. 

God knew Covid would come, and He prepared a ‘healing balm’. Our Bishop completed the circle of God’s intentions, and I’m so thankful for the technology skills I’ve been taught. I shudder to think how things would have been several years ago with no ‘Zoom’ to vanquish some effects of Covid.

Bishop showed us ‘how to fish’ and he’ll be delighted to know that when my gospel library app stopped working, I uninstalled and reinstalled it unaided! We have stepped forward bravely into the unknown, and in the words of Psalm 118:23 – ‘This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes’.